Locations Main Campus: Chesterfield, MO 63017   |   Locations
314-434-1500 314-434-1500   |   Contact Us

Multimedia Encyclopedia


 
E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Thyroid cancer - medullary carcinoma

Thyroid - medullary carcinoma; Cancer - thyroid (medullary carcinoma); MTC; Thyroid nodule - medullary

 

Medullary carcinoma of the thyroid is cancer of the thyroid gland that starts in cells that release a hormone called calcitonin. These cells are called "C" cells. The thyroid gland is located inside the front of your lower neck.

Causes

 

The cause of medullary carcinoma of the thyroid (MTC) is unknown. MTC is very rare. It can occur in children and adults.

Unlike other types of thyroid cancer, MTC is less likely to be caused by radiation therapy to the neck given to treat other cancers during childhood.

There are 2 forms of MTC:

  • Sporadic MTC, which does not run in families. Most MTCs are sporadic. This form mainly affects older adults.
  • Inherited MTC, which runs in families.

You have an increased risk for this type of cancer if you have:

  • A family history of MTC
  • A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN))
  • Had prior history of pheochromocytoma, mucosal neuromas, or hyperparathyroidism

Other types of thyroid cancer include:

  • Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid
  • Follicular tumor of the thyroid
  • Papillary carcinoma of the thyroid
  • Thyroid lymphoma

 

Symptoms

 

MTC often begins as a small lump (nodule) in the thyroid gland. There may also be lymph node swelling in the neck. As a result, symptoms may include:

  • Problems swelling
  • Hoarseness
  • Breathing problems due to narrowing of airways
  • Cough
  • Cough with blood
  • Diarrhea due to high calcitonin level

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history.

Tests that may be used to diagnose MTC include:

  • Calcitonin blood test
  • CEA blood test
  • Genetic testing
  • Thyroid biopsy
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid

People with MTC should be checked for certain other tumors, especially pheochromocytoma.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment involves surgery to remove the thyroid gland and surrounding lymph nodes. Because this is an uncommon tumor, surgery should be performed by a surgeon who is familiar with this type of cancer and experienced with the operation required.

Chemotherapy and radiation do not work very well for this type of cancer. Radiation is used in some people after surgery. New treatments are being investigated in clinical trials. Your provider can tell you more about these, if needed.

 

Support Groups

 

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

About 86% of those with medullary carcinoma of the thyroid live at least 5 years after diagnosis. The 10 year survival rate is 65%.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

  • Cancer spreads to other areas of the body
  • Parathyroid glands are accidentally removed during surgery

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if you have symptoms of medullary carcinoma of the thyroid.

 

Prevention

 

Prevention may not be possible. But, being aware of your risk factors, especially your family history, may allow for early diagnosis and treatment. For people who have a very strong family history of MTC, the option to remove the thyroid gland may be recommended. You should carefully discuss this option with a doctor who is very familiar with the disease.

 

 

References

National Cancer Institute. PDQ thyroid cancer treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated February 4, 2016. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/thyroid/HealthProfessional. Accessed April 4, 2016.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology: thyroid carcinoma. Version 2.2015. www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/thyroid.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2016.

Schneider DF, Mazeh H, Lubner SJ, Jaume JC, Chen H. Cancer of the endocrine system. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2014:chap 71.

 
  • Thyroid cancer - CT scan

    Thyroid cancer - CT scan - illustration

    This CT scan of the upper chest (thorax) shows a malignant thyroid tumor (cancer). The dark area around the trachea (marked by the white U-shaped tip of the respiratory tube) is an area where normal tissue has been eroded and died (necrosis) as a result of tumor growth.

    Thyroid cancer - CT scan

    illustration

  • Thyroid gland

    Thyroid gland - illustration

    The thyroid gland, a part of the endocrine (hormone) system, plays a major role in regulating the body's metabolism.

    Thyroid gland

    illustration

    • Thyroid cancer - CT scan

      Thyroid cancer - CT scan - illustration

      This CT scan of the upper chest (thorax) shows a malignant thyroid tumor (cancer). The dark area around the trachea (marked by the white U-shaped tip of the respiratory tube) is an area where normal tissue has been eroded and died (necrosis) as a result of tumor growth.

      Thyroid cancer - CT scan

      illustration

    • Thyroid gland

      Thyroid gland - illustration

      The thyroid gland, a part of the endocrine (hormone) system, plays a major role in regulating the body's metabolism.

      Thyroid gland

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Thyroid cancer - medullary carcinoma

           

             

            Review Date: 3/16/2016

            Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

             
             
             

             

             

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.



            Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.